Art Over Science

Lesson 6: Planning Your Solo Art Exhibition

A solo art exhibition is both an exciting and scary event. You and your artworks will be under scrutiny and critique, and the trepidation of gaining visitor approval is nerve-racking, to say the least.

Many artists will start their paintings with little idea on what artworks they will eventually end up with. Although this can produce fresh and spontaneous results it can also lead to a haphazard display and unnecessary time pressures on the artist. An exhibition which is cohesive and well structured can make a big difference to the experience of your visitors, and pre-planning the artworks will dramatically reduce the stress levels of the artist.
One way to achieve this result is to plan the exhibition space and artworks in advance.

Draw up floor plans

Obtain a detailed floor plan of the exhibition space which shows the measurements and placement of all walls, doors, and windows. Draw this plan to scale onto the largest sheet of paper you have. Make a special note of any architectural features such as alcoves, pillars, electrical switches, pipes and lighting.

Indicate the traffic flow

Draw arrows onto your plan showing the likely route your visitors will take when walking around your exhibition. If necessary ask the building owner or manager for this information. This information will indicate which painting will be viewed first and which will be viewed last.

Select your focal point

A focal point is a very good idea as it will spark the interest of the visitor as soon as they enter. It is normally the biggest, best painting you have, displayed in the best spot in the exhibition space. This area is normally directly opposite the main entrance and will have a suitable spotlight on it. On your floor plan mark this spot with a star.

Select the number and size of artworks

Use small post-it notes to represent each artwork and stick them onto the walls of your floor plan. Write the size of each painting on the top ensuring you vary the sizes as you move around the space. Do not cram your paintings in -- have adequate space around each one to display it at its best potential. Keep moving the post-it notes until you are satisfied with the layout.

Design your artworks

Design each artwork in more detail using your exhibition theme as your guide. Transfer a brief description and thumbnail sketch of each artwork onto the post-it note, using colored pens or pencils if necessary.

Start painting

When you are happy with the overall layout of the exhibition hang your floor plan onto the wall and start painting. As you complete each artwork cross it off and move onto the next one. You can evaluate your progress at a glance and adjust the designs and locations of the artworks easily.

Organizing a solo exhibition does not need to be difficult and stressful. Staying focused and pre-planning is the key to pulling off a successful show. This is easily achieved by using a floor plan to organize and plan your paintings, giving you more time to paint and less time to stress out!

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